After an early start we arrived in Auckland from Hobart via Melbourne. A short distance but we lost another two hours bringing us to GMT+13 – We’re ageing fast!
Leaving Hobart it was raining, windy and cold. We arrived in NZ to sunshine and heat – a great start!
Because we only have three weeks to see as much of New Zealand as possible we decided to let “New Zealand self drive tours” organise our itinerary and, as it’s high season here, book all the hotels in advance.
We were met at the airport, given our extensive info pack and driven to our hotel in the centre of Auckland.
We had one day to explore Auckland and then it was time to pick up our rental car – It’s a Jaguar!
We headed past the Bombay Hills, into Hobbit country and on to Rotorua. Rotorua is in one of the most active volcano regions in the world and is peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers. Lovely place though it is, the smell of sulphur can be quite overwhelming.
After 2 days we were on our way again, this time to Napier – We’re in the wine making region now. Napier is right on the sea, a nice place with a great choice of restaurants and bars.
Next stop, the capital of NZ, Wellington. It was nice to take the cable car up out of the busy city and enjoy the peace and quiet of the lovely botanical gardens.
A few days later and, after handing in our car, we’re on the boat crossing the Cook Strait on our way to the South Island. The crossing takes 3.5 hours and is as scenic as promised.
We were soon on our way again after picking up our second hire car – It’s a golden Rolls Royce!
Blenheim is in the Marlborough region and nearly 80% of NZ wine comes from here. We couldn’t leave without doing an afternoon of wine tasting. Our group consisted of 9 people from all different countries.
Initially everyone was very quiet and subdued. By the end of the day and after visiting 5 vineyards and tasting 5 different wines at each one (spittoons were left unused) we were all the best of friends.
3 members of the group had done a whole day of wine tasting starting at 9 in the morning – Respect!
The trip to Christchurch was amazing – the hills started to turn into mountains and the scenery was just spectacular.
We loved Christchurch. It’s nearly 7 years since the earthquake on Tuesday 22 February 2011 and the city is still in the midst of being totally rebuilt. Never having been in an earthquake zone, it was shocking to see up close the extent of the damage. An amazing job is being done though in restoring the old buildings, putting up brand new buildings and creating marvellous parks.
My favourite was the street art:
We were surprised to discover a sword stuck in a stone just outside our hotel. Dave wasted no time in extracting it (must have been loosened by the earthquake):
A short time later this strange guy started following us around, annoyingly he kept calling Dave “Arthur”:
Eventually we managed to give him the slip by jumping on to the Christchurch tram.
Too soon it was time to say “goodbye” and head off to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. The terrain changed drastically – the mountains got bigger and the scenery just more dramatic.
We’d expected it to get cold, but luckily for us on the day we walked to the glacier, the sun was shining
It started raining and temperatures dropped to 13℃ the morning that we left. Our final stop – Queenstown, on the way passing the Kawarau Gorge.
After a few days of exploring Queenstown:
it was time to fly back to Hobart and what will be our last 3 months in Australia. We loved New Zealand but wish that we’d had more time to really explore. 3 weeks means a lot of driving from city to city and not getting to see much in between. It would have been great fun in our camper but not viable considering the logistics and costs involved in exporting it from Australia to NZ.
Happy Christmas to everyone and a healthy and happy 2018!